Pending Economic Downturn: The Skyscraper Index

According to the “Skyscraper Index” there is a correlation between the completion of the “worlds tallest” skyscraper and an economic downturn:

Sometimes a skyscraper is not just a skyscraper, at least to economists who see them as harbingers of downturns. The Skyscraper Index measures the correlation between the world’s tallest building and the business cycle. The theory, first proposed in 1999 by Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Andrew Lawrence, is that construction of the world’s tallest building is usually completed right before an economic downturn. The Empire State Building went up early in the Great Depression, and the World Trade Center was completed on the eve of a recession.

Here’s a helpful infographic:

skyscraper index graphic

In related news, Saudi Arabia is constructing what will be the tallest skyscraper in the world, the 3,280 foot (1km or 0.6 mile) tall Kingdom Tower scheduled for completion in 2019. With the skyscraper index in mind, plan for the 2019 economic downturn accordingly.

Video: Swarms of micro-robots constructing things

Very cool stuff:

Diamagnetic Micro Manipulation (DM3) uses tiny magnets that move under a circuit board, to get the micro-robots to follow a set pattern based on a set of preprogrammed instructions. The system can be set up so just one or a couple of robots are working together, or you can have giant groups of them moving together in sync like some bizarre gymnastics routine. Despite their tiny size, the robots can move up to a foot in a single second, so they can haul around your micro manufacturing supplies pretty swiftly.

SRI says that DM3 can be used for prototyping parts, electronics assembly, biotech lab-on-a-chip experiments, and assembling small mechanical systems in hostile environments. Eventually they plan to scale up the technology, by developing a manufacturing head containing thousands of the little buggers that can build much larger assemblies.

As you might expect, the funding comes from the military, and is part of DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program.

And the video…

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This type of technology has the potential to significantly enhance the manufacture of very small electronics.

Controversial unproven technologies to combat global warming. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s kinda sad watching a once great institution such as MIT sacrifice their credibility at the altar of radical environmentalism:

 A U.N. climate report released on Sunday concludes that there may still be time to limit global warming to an increase of two degrees Celsius or less, which could help the world avoid the worst effects of climate change. But doing so will depend on making extraordinary changes to energy infrastructure at a much faster pace than is happening now, and may require the use of controversial and unproven technologies for pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Controversial unproven technologies… Combat global warming… What could possibly go wrong….

MIT Technology Review continues.

Scientists generally agree that avoiding the worst of climate change will require stabilizing levels of key greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million (greenhouse gas levels, including carbon dioxide and other gases such as methane, are already at 430 parts per million). But even with aggressive measures to reduce emissions—investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power plants, and technology to capture carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power plants—the world is likely to shoot past that amount. As a result, limiting warming to two degrees Celsius might require actually removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, to bring levels back down to 450 parts per million.

Uhhh… “Scientists generally agree?” What happened to, you know, actual proof with actual test data? As far as I’m concerned, the mean temperature in my neck of the woods has remained very constant over the last 75 or so years.

mean temperature  Milford Michigan   Wolfram Alpha

If the entire globe is experiencing catastrophic global warming shouldn’t I see something other than a very (200 years per -1 degree F) slight cooling trend?

What else would you expect from an institute of higher learning that granted Paul Krugman a PhD in economics of all things.

Saginaw County Sheriff says “we’re constantly outgunned” as he gladly receives Army surplus MRAP

The MRAP:

At “no cost to taxpayers?” …B.S….. Taxpayers already paid for these machines when the military purchased them for war fighting in the first place.

Anyhow, getting a little closer to home, in Saginaw County, Michigan the county Sheriff has recently received a MRAP for his department:

“We’re constantly outgunned,” he said, noting criminals could be carrying silencers, assault rifles and other heavy duty weapons, adding, “I need every tool I can get.”

The vehicle, which is the Maxx Pro (For maximum protection) version of the MRAP, was given to the department at no cost, and there is no maintenance budget for the truck, Federspiel said. The department can obtain parts for free from the military, he said, and he plans to use drug forfeiture funds to pay for any repairs, though he expects to use the truck rarely.

Seriously…. The Saginaw County Sheriff says “we’re constantly outgunned?”  Naturally, to counteract his perception of being “outgunned”, the Saginaw Co. Sheriff gladly accepts an Army surplus MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle to protect his deputies from IED’s ,.50 cal. sniper rifles and chemical weapon attacks occurring regularly on the mean streets of Frankenmuth.

frankenmuth fountian

covered-bridge-in-Frankenmuth

Saginaw County Sheriff Federspiel explains his rationale in accepting a military vehicle such as an MRAP for his department::

“As sheriff of the county, I have to put ourselves in the best position to protect our citizens and protect our property,” he said. “I have to prepare for something disastrous.”

The MRAP could be used in a situation of an armored gunman with high-powered weapons, Federspiel said.

“They can go ahead and fire at that with a .50-caliber weapon and they’re still protected,” he said.

“I don’t think of myself as a ‘doomsdayer,’ someone who worries about the end of the world — I don’t,” he said. “But I have to think about what-ifs when I’m the sheriff.”

He said the vehicle is part of that plan to be prepared for the worst. Such an incident has not happened since he was elected sheriff.

“But that doesn’t mean we won’t have one,” he said.

For those who don’t know, Saginaw county, Michigan is lightly populated, with 196,542 people (2013 estimate) inhabiting 815.78 sq mi. and is known more as a ‘touristy’ area as opposed to a hotbed of IED’s explosions, chemical weapon attacks or random .50 cal gun fire.

In short, Peace Officers in the United States don’t need military hardware to do their jobs.

Politifact 2012 Lie of the Year becomes true: Chrysler building tree Jeep models in China

Remember when PolitiFact called Mitt Romney’s ad stating Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” 2012′s “Lie of the Year?

Well, Politifact’s “2012 Lie of the Year” turns out not to be a lie at all. Not only is Chrysler / Fiat building a Jeep in China (for the China market), FCA (Fiat Chrysler Autos) is actually planning to construct three Jeep vehicles in China:

Fiat and Chrysler announced plans Saturday to build three new Jeep models in China for that market, the biggest for the vehicles outside the United States, as they attempt to boost sales in a country where they lag behind their competitors.

The automakers said they will expand their joint venture with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd., and increase the portfolio of Jeeps, which are currently imported to China.

Production is expected to start in late 2015 in Guangzhou, the companies said in a statement, adding that they are considering a Jeep model “uniquely designed for China.”

Chrysler Group LLC spokesman Gualberto Ranieri declined to provide details on that model. He said in an email that more information will be announced at an “appropriate time.”

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who plans to complete the legal merger of Fiat and Chrysler by the end of the year, said in the statement that the deal represents the next phase in the “expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand.”

Chrysler building Jeeps in China for the China market is actually a good thing. It causes a few more dollars to flow back to our shores.

After all that bluster about not bailing out Detroit, Obama is sending bailout money to Detroit

You knew an Obama bailout for Detroit was going to happen:

Detroit just gets more publicity because the city is inching ever closer to filing for bankruptcy, and a taxpayer bailout.

MCT May 25th, 2013

Early in the discussion of Detroit potentially filing for bankruptcy, Obama and his henchmen repeatedly denied the possibility of a Federal bailout of Detroit. Remember this gem issued by Dear Leader?

“The President and members of the President’s senior team continue to closely monitor the situation in Detroit.  While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America’s great cities.”

My how times have changed:

The two sources, who spoke late Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the information, confirmed talks about the federal government supporting a state move to funnel $100 million in federal money to Detroit for blight remediation.

That would free up $100 million of more than $500 million that emergency manager Kevyn Orr plans to spend for blight removal over the next 10 years. Orr could then use that money to reduce pension cuts.

Instead of setting a strong precedence by forcing government workers to tighten their belts like the rest of us, Santa Barack will simply “funnel” money and make it all better. And remind everyone during the 2014 election.

Taxes are for little people according to some members of Congress

Taxes are for little people according to some members of Congress, including those responsible for writing the tax code.

Via CNN:

But a CNN investigation of all 39 Democrats and Republicans on the committee found that at least eight members have faced tax problems of their own.

For example, New York Rep. Tom Reed has been late paying his property taxes at least 46 times since 2005. And he racked up more than $6,200 in penalties and interest on more than $100,000 in taxes, according to county records.

On a stunning lake house in New York’s Finger Lakes region and a home in Corning, Reed missed a combined 16 tax payments over nine years.

On three other buildings in Corning and another in Bath Village, Reed had a total of 20 late payments over eight years.

And on a mobile home park and two other commercial properties, Reed was late on his taxes 10 times since 2007, according to county records.

So what happened?

“You know it’s just like a lot of people, these are things that just happen and they were paid within the allotted time,” Reed told CNN.

But unlike a lot of people, Reed is charged with writing the nation’s tax laws.

Nice to see our tireless public servants are living such a wonderful lifestyle.

As a side note it’s no surprise that the partisans at CNN can find only the slightest amount of intestinal fortitude to list a single Democrat, the well known tax cheat Charlie Rangel, in the entire article.

Tax Freedom Day is April 21st, for income taxes. But what about the rest of the taxes?

Chris Wy (who’s pretty fly for a Jersey guy) discusses how average Americans are approaching 2014′s Tax Freedom Day. The day where Americans have finally paid their federal and state income taxes:

More than 1/3 of every dollar I make gets shipped off into a black hole. That’s not “freedom.” Not in my book.

Sure, approximately 1/3 of of your paycheck is confiscated by the Fed’s and your state government for redistribution. However, this isn’t the whole picture. There are a myriad of other taxes and fees imposed (most reside in the fine print) on us by government on all levels that you might not notice. Taxes such as cell phone, cable, sales, energy and gasoline taxes. This is something John Stossel has been covering for years.

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When you sum it all up, the real ‘Tax Freedom’ day for an average American is closer to the Fourth of July than mid April.

midpoint of 2014

Depressing isn’t it? Work half the year to pay all your taxes…

Oh! This doesn’t include inflation, a type of hidden tax that makes everything more expensive.